Challenging an implicit assumption of universal applicability we propose that a subset of transformational leader behaviors may hamper organizational outcomes for a unique yet growing segment of the workforce: employees on the autism spectrum. Specifically we tested the hypothesis that emotion-laden communication and social exchanges characterizing the inspirational motivation dimension of the theory are associated with increased feelings of anxiety which in turn negatively relate to work outcomes. In contrast we proposed that other dimensions of transformational leadership such as individualized consideration would be associated with reduced levels of anxiety and ultimately improved workplace outcomes. Results generally supported the hypothesized indirect relationships for ratings of organizational commitment but not self-reported job performance which was most strongly predicted by individualized consideration directly. Implications for managing employees with autism spectrum disorder are discussed as well as the overall applicability of transformational leadership to this growing segment of the workforce.
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